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  1. Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Mar 2012
    • Posts: 1

    modals for instructions

    Hi all,

    I haven't taught for several years but I had a business issue passed my way which has resulted in much debate. A letter was received that contained the following sentence:
    'A copy of this letter should be given to each Warehousekeeper where x hold an account and/or intend to store excise goods'
    English is not the first language of the recipient. It was intended that the letter was supposed to instruct x to inform the warehouses, however I, and the warehouses, have argued that 'should' is more advisory, perhaps MUST would have been more suitable, and no agent is identified in the sentence, it is merely assumed. I would really appreciate any advice as I haven't taught TEFL for some time. Thanks in advance for any advice.

  2. VIP Member
    Interested in Language
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Apr 2009
    • Posts: 12,423

    Re: modals for instructions

    It's clear to me that the writer of the letter expects that each warehouse will receive a copy of it. Not that it is merely his "advice" that they should.

    If I were to advise one of my subordinates that they "should' do something, I would expect them to do it, not to argue about whether my English was proper.

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